Arrows in a Quiver: From Contact to the Courts in Indigenous-Canadian Relations: A Book Review

 

 

Indigenous-settler relations, sovereignty, and legalities have a long and tumultuous history in Canada. Unfortunately, this means that the average Canadian does not have the context nor perspective to understand this history, resulting in widespread acceptance of half-truths, racial bias, and a lack of empathy towards different cultures. On the positive side, a wealth of peer-reviewed literature exists in the academic ethos that can assist in closing the gap that exists in Indigenous-settler relations. One of the best examples of this literature can be found in James Frideres’ newest book, “Arrows in a Quiver: From Contact to the Courts in Indigenous-Canadian Relations.” This literature is also complimented very well by the striking painting found on the cover of this book, provided by artist Lawerence Paul Yuxweliptun.

This 2019 release by the University of Regina Press discusses the implications of a colonial government structure in Canada and how a restructuring of many policies and the structure that systematically represses Indigenous people must take place in order for reconciliation to occur. However, the book is not all on the deficits that Indigenous people face. The title in itself, “Arrows in a Quiver”, refers to the tools that Indigenous people in Canada are utilizing to make these reforms such as grassroots political movements, nonviolent protest, engagement with provincial and federal politics, and Indigenizing Canadian law at the courtroom level. Frideres expertly provides the historical and legal contexts required for any reader, regardless of education on Indigenous-Canadian relations, to understand the necessities that are required in Canadian legal reform to achieve reconciliation. As one may guess, this book is chock full of Canadian laws and policies both historical and current but do not need to be intimidated by this fact. Unlike other law texts that I have read, I found this book to be surprisingly easy to follow. Frideres finds the incredibly fine line between adequately describing law and not littering the text with jargon or an academic dialect that may alienate casual readers.

Not only does Frideres describe the laws and policies that affect Indigenous people in Canada but also actively applies them to examples via cases and academic research. The weight of this evidence truly makes this book feel like an in-depth review of the political and legal landscape in Canada and the level of care and research put into this book cannot be understated.

In conclusion, “Arrows in a Quiver” is a fantastic and enlightening read for anyone to further their understanding on Indigenous-settler relations and to become a part of the solution for the reconciliation that is needed to close the gap in our ever-divisive nation.

 

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

Book Review – Corridor Nine: A Novel

“Corridor Nine: A Novel”
by Sophie Stocking
Published by Thistledown Press
Reviewed by Ben Charles
ISBN: 9781771871815

“Corridor Nine: A Novel”, written by Sophie Stocking and published by Thistledown Press is an exceptional novel that expertly encapsulates the extremes of soul-crushing emotions and outlandish behaviour in a way that is very accurate to the human experience. Even though this novel could be read within a weekend, it packs wallop. At under 200 pages this novel makes no room for literary fluff, every word is a thread that weaves into a beautiful and fantastical yet tender and tragic story of life and loss.

The story follows Bernadette Macomber, who thought that she had all but completely cut ties with her troubled father, Fabian, to begin again and start a family of her own. In the wake of Fabian’s sudden suicide, Bernadette finds herself returning home. All is not over for Fabian, however, as he finds himself in a completely foreign afterlife named Corridor Nine and in the company of an angel/griffin-figure named Bune. As Fabian transverses life-after-life, Bernadette or “Bernie”, is left in the mundane to seek the source of her father’s recent insanity. As the twin narratives consecutively play out, they also intertwine to result in the closure that both Bernie and Fabian so desperately seek.

As mentioned, this novel is a relatively short read but a truly delightfully one. Those with an inkling towards supernatural series will have a seriously good time tearing through this novel while also enjoying more mature tones, narratives, and characters than something like the Harry Potter or Twilight series would have to offer. That is not to say that young readers could not enjoy this novel, either. There is a certain exuberance to this novel that exudes from all its aspects, from the mystery of Corridor Nine and this universes’ afterlife, the fantastical qualities and characteristics of Bune, to the bizarre remnants of Fabian that he left behind. There were very few parts of the novel that it was not apparent that this story was truly a passion project of Stocking’s and it was story that she had been burning to tell. In fact, the cover painting of the novel, also rich and vibrant, is a work of Stocking’s as well. While it is not the most unusual thing in the world to see authors create their own covers, it is rarely executed so well and is honestly a breath of fresh air.

In conclusion, this is a delightfully read for nearly all ages. It perfectly blends the relatable themes of loss, guilt, and conflicting feelings about loved ones with the imagination of the supernatural. This far exceeds the quality that one would expect from a debut novel and I am excited to see how Stocking’s career flourishes as a great Canadian author.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

Southern Blend and White Wine

Southern Blend and white wine

one half raw

and the other refined.

 

Do not pack me in
to fit into your lip.
Do not box me up
and use me for a sip.

 

I belong with the wild grapes
growing together under the sky.
Toiling, sweating, sunburnt.
Alive.
Thinking, listening, feeling.
Asking why?
An imortal soul
inside an indignant ape.

Autumn

The earth and leaves
leave an earthy scent
that sends me home,
refreshed from the homely,
weary ways in which the winds wave.

Crisp, October air bites
and comforts in the same breath.
Damp and dry,
Beauty and demise,
when life eclipses death.

The sun prepares her goodbyes
Her sorrow spectacularly lashes out
her tears splatter the sky.
She smoulders in a violet pout.
Her silver sister gleams in a stoic stride.

Au Revoir à Rien

Sometimes I wonder what’s in the dark.

Sometimes I wonder what lurks behind closed eyes.

Does the world end with a nap?
Or does the soul emerge from the mortal cocoon,
shedding the drudgery, the prejudice, the shackles of our pathetic past?

What was I supposed to do here?
I’ve been told that I need to find my Dad.
I called out for him, he went out for a jug of milk.
So I shrug and I sulk.
What’s the purpose of finding a purpose? I’d be dead lyin’ if I didn’t say that my deadline happening at any moment makes me feel alive.
Bless my poor little heart and the stress that I put it through
Earth returns to earth.
My hot blood spurts a scorching statement, it spits in the face of chance.

Fuck you and your comfort.
I’d rather be full of piss and vinegar
than full of regret.
Fuck me and my polite reserves
this is my life, it belongs to me.
I’d rather ruffle some feathers
than be a bird in a cage.

Stay on guard
Stay pissed off.
Smile in the face of anxiety
We chose half-truths and easy answers
over hard decisions
over rethinking our biases.

We chose of life of being
Docile, infertile.
Medicated, sedated.
tame, lame.
simple, limp.
Formulaic, archaic.

 

Choose life.

 

I’ll Carry You

When you can’t feel your hands,
when you can’t weather the storm.
I’ll Carry You,
back into familiar lands,
back into the warmth.

When your legs tremble,
when you cannot stand on your own
I’ll Carry You
until your strength assembles
and your name the world fears
and your name the world knows.

Yes, I’ll Carry You
when you’re yellow, when you’re green and when you’re blue.
When you’re healthy, when you’re sick,
when you’re ornery, when you’re ticked,
I’ll Still Carry You,
It starts with an “I Do”.

But much like my gold,
I’ll get spent, I’ll grow old.
I’ll Carry You
with a broken back, one knee
and a smiling face.
Like Depends, my bladder might be a maybe
I’ll Still Carry You

Much like this song,
soon I’ll be gone.
I’ll Still Carry You
when I’m laid to rest,
do not fear, do not fret.
I’ll Carry You
through our daughters and our sons
in my arms, in your love.

I’ll sit with St. Pete,
He’ll lean into me.
He’ll ask, “how did you get through life?”
I’ll say, “If I can bum a smoke and light,
I’ll tell you it’s alright.
You know what? It was kinda easy.
Because I had a great woman,

who carried me.

A Bright Man.

I don’t follow the newest news.
I don’t know how to say no.
I may not be a bright man,
but I do have some light, man.

How can I be well-read
without and good-reads?
How can I be a leader
and not tell another where to be led?

Is that a revelation?
The word reveals nothing, much ado.
Is that a revolution?
The world doesn’t revolve around you.
Is that evolution?
Stagnation loves having nothing to do.

Change takes time
But we take no time to change.

 

A Family of Roaches

I stroll through barren alleys and cracked cement,
unheard to me are the pleas of the roaches.

A titanic shadow approaches from above.
The end is near.
Sick in disease, they are, with a sickening disease.
They repulse mice, they repulse fleas.
The men welcome death.
The women have done their best to flee.
In inactivity, they wait to die.
In captivity, they say goodbye,
to pay the respects that they never had.

What am I to do
When I look down on my shoe?
I see a brother, a predator, a pest,
a life with no chance.
I shrug, and I stroll
for it is only a family of roaches.

The Oxen

The days pass him by with
the heat on his back.
The dirt in his face.
Sweat on his brow. 

He plows on
and on, and on.

With the sun’s faithful glow
and the rain’s nurturing gifts
The Oxen begins to watch his fields grow,
his labor yields a great bounty
as the seasons start to shift.
Much to The Oxen’s dismay,
the farmer takes him away.
To the corral, he goes,
just as he knows.
While the field is harvested and razed.

The grain is now stored in bins as tall as the sky,
The farmers are now fat and happy on bread, beer and rye.
While The Oxen shivers in his frozen stall
he begins to wonder if this is worth it at all.
The Oxen rests on his haystack prize.

The sun has returned, all is now well.
The soil and grass lift his spirit with their uplifting smell.
The Oxen prepares himself to return to work
when reality gives him a conspicuous jerk.
The farmer has sold him to dig trenches and wells.

The Oxen has given all that he can give.
Can one fear death when one hasn’t lived?
Hooven pads collapse in the mud.
Bladed whips lash into his blood.
The Oxen rises. Now a frail, crimson sieve.

The days pass him by
with the heat on his back.
The dirt in his face.
Sweat on his brow. 

He plows on
and on, and on.

Smothered

Breathless gasps
above raging waves.
Hapless grasps
slipping on the reigns.

A race that I cannot win,
A weight that I cannot lift.
Too little forgiveness of sin,
Too much space in this rift.

Pushed down,

down,

down.

Expected to rise.

I will drown
in the quicksand.
Small grains build muffled screams and burning eyes.

Throw me a rope.
Throw me a hand.

To get here you must have been a dope.
At least pretend like you understand.

Tar on my heels,
tar in my head.

I’m sorry if that’s the way you feel.
Maybe try growing up instead?

Smothered

Like a mother who won’t let go.

Undiscovered

Like under a dusty vinyl cover, the contents hidden and stowed.